2009 has been a year of deaths of public people personally influential on me. There's been William F. Buckley, Richard Neuhaus, Michael Dubruiel, and John Updike to name a few.
Reading Christopher Buckley's memoir of his late father's last days has pretty much cured me of my semi-morbid desire to read of anybody's last days, although it did keen my desire to be more like John Paul II in his final days than, say, a Jack Kerouac (God rest his soul). It was John Paul the Great who taught us how to age with dignity, to the extent anyone's earthly example can.
But then, while saying the second decade of the rosary, it occurred to me what a misbegotten project that is because it still focuses only on self. I wasn't really thinking of God in this situation. Unlike St. Joan of Arc, who wanted desperately to see a crucifix while on the stake - because it was there she found her motivation and inspiration. The tendency to focus solely on self multiplies expotentially with pain, understandably.
Love alone avails, even/especially when it concerns performance-related issues like "how am I dealing with this suffering?" Is the question itself the wrong one? Perhaps it's as simple as asking: "God, please give me - all of us - the courage and strength to endure whatever crosses we will face in the future!"